Social Media Stories

Sometime over the last few weeks, an exhaustion and demoralization with social media sunk into me.

The Blog, the Twitter, the Facebook, the Instagram.

All of it.

A long time coming.

I have an urge to destroy it all.

I’ve already come off of Instagram, a feeling akin to an alcoholic quitting drinking. I no longer look at other people’s bodies, trips to Capri, or bearded hikers standing on railroad tracks in Washington State. I have no more desire to like and no more desire to have someone like me.

The blog I created in 2006, “Here in Van Nuys” has opened up some new avenues for me, in people I’ve met, in others who shared my interest in urban exploration, history, photography and the architecture of Van Nuys, the San Fernando Valley and beyond.

But my secret motivation for writing and photographing, to get discovered and enriched, and motivated and respected, and financed and hired, well much of that never happened.

Instead, the tired and poor, the lost and the aimless, those searching for some place to put their hopes in Van Nuys, without having money or vision, those are the ones who glommed on. There was no knock on the door by developers, or architects, or the Mayor. Nobody thought Van Nuys worthier because of my writing, or maybe they did, but it lead, not to a new community, but back to another blog post.

Occasionally, a notable person popped up in email. In 2010, playwright Jon Robin Baitz, sent me a nice message, signing it “Robbie”. We met for coffee, and he said he would stay in touch, and we never spoke again.

There must be a reason why I write and photograph and why I created “Here in Van Nuys”, but to the fast, shallow, clickable, dumbed down virtual world, that answer always ends in clicks and celebrities.

Recent disappointments are small but telling.

  • I photographed a guy and thought they were some of my best photos ever. He put them on his Instagram, with his 9,000 followers and less than 10 people liked my photos.
  • On Linkedin, another website whose purpose is mysterious, a comedian/actor/performer/writer/huckster named Rich R—— connected with me. I never met him before. He said he was looking for projects. I contacted him and he said, “I’m lookin’ at your IMDB dude and I don’t see nothin’ since 2006. I mean people have bad luck, but I’m like what have you done lately?” He later added, “I’m involved in several projects, including one in the low millions, and some other things on Vine, so if I have time I’ll look at yours.” Apparently, he believes INDB is factual and accurate. Just as Instagram is the truth.
  • A friend who lives in Encino told me of a nearby home renting for $8,500 a month. It was just rented by a 19-year-old white punky kid, a “social media influencer” who has two million followers and attained some recent notoriety for forcing his underage girlfriend to have sex with him on camera.

I cite these stories as evidence that human life, and human beings are sucked in by an imaginary world, a make-believe life, that sometimes pays, but also, much more, destroys and devalues.

The longer I walk in the virtual world, the more I feel it as a kind of imposter and identity thief who steals my thoughts, my reality and my existence and plays it out as a funhouse game.

Taking myself off of it, one step at a time, seems the next logical, lifesaving step.


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